System(s): PC and Mac
Release Date: November 27, 2009
Publisher (Developer): KarjaSoft (KarjaSoft)
ESRB Rating: N/A, I’d say its good for ages
Pros: Lots of quests, statues to find for fun, can unlock awards, a nice selection of monsters to catch and breed, quite a few different characters to interact with, indicator tells you if animals are doing well, can instantly warp back to Wildhollow ranch and don’t need to pay for animal food.
Cons: Hard to see world map locations unless you’re right on top of them, music is bland, necessary items to find in hidden object style puzzes can be difficult to see, difficult to earn money for essential items early on, have to quit to save and must sell all apples/fish/etc when selling and can’t sell just a few.
Overall Score: One thumb up, one sideways; 80/100; B-; * * * out of 5
Animal raising and breeding simulation games are fairly rare on computers, so it’s always interesting to see when a new entry appears. KarjaSoft’s Wildhollow is a game where the main focus is on raising and breeding unusual monster-critters, but there’s more to it than that. There are also some adventure game elements, in the form of quests to solve to earn money and discover the truth behind a destroyed ranch and missing parents.
Your parents are missing! Rebuild your family’s ranch so you can discover what happened.
After deciding the gender and name of your main character, you watch as a mysterious figure lurks in the shadow by the family’s Wildhollow Ranch and trashes the place. Shortly after, you return to Spring Valley on a brief hiatus from studying abroad to learn the horrible news – Wildhollow has been destroyed and your parents are missing.
You promptly decide to abandon your education, so that you can rebuild Wildhollow, discover who did this atrocious act and learn what happened to your parents. This means you’ll need to take quests from random people and villagers to fund your rebuilding efforts and travel through multiple locations to search for items and clues.
Balance caring for needing animals and item scavenging for quests.
Wildhollow is primarily an animal raising simulation, though there are some mini-games, hidden object puzzle elements and even point-and-click adventure aspects to the game. When you’re at Wildhollow Ranch, you’re caring for animals by dragging food or caretaking tools onto animals to make sure they’re in top condition, selling animals to make a profit or breeding animals to get more animals for free, discover new breeds and earn more money.
When you’re in town or other locations, its a different story. You can play mini-games, like apple tree bashing or fishing, to collect food items you can feed to animals or sell for a pitance in town. You can also talk to people on the map to take quests, which require the gathering of food stuffs, searching locations for hidden objects or even animal raising.
Overall, it’s a well executed game, but there are a few annoyances that pop up throughout play. They aren’t enough to make you stop playing, but they can be discouraging at times. First, sometimes the hidden object items are incredibly small and difficult to see against the watercolor style backgrounds. Second, money is a very precious and hard to earn commodity. You’ll find you’ll need an animal brush early on and compass, along with the first Wildhollow repair. Unfortunately, you’ll only really make enough from the quests for the Wildhollow repair and an animal. Earning money isn’t easy, especially when there are no quests. The Inn owner and other rancher will only buy food you’ve gathered for such a small amount that there’s really no point in selling them. You can also only save when you quit the game.
Running Wildhollow Ranch is sort-of like managing an animal daycare.
Aside from a slow start, trying to earn enough money for essential animal care tools or equipment to progress to new areas on the map, Wildhollow is an interesting animal care and breeding game. It’s a Viva Pinata/Monster Rancher style game where the primary focus is on raising and breeding unique animals, with occasional quests, achievements and items to search for when caretaking gets stale. Personally, I’d have liked to get more money when I’d sell extra apples or fish and the ability to only sell a few of the items in my inventory and not all, but other than that I enjoyed playing.